Medical Minute 11-15:

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

Groups of men and women are marching into an ambush, while others enter a dark, deafening war zone. It's what you might expect military recruits to go through before they're shipped off to the front lines, but these camo-clad soldiers are medical officers.

"You're not dealing with trained war fighters in this group," said Dr. Ian Cassady, Army Captain.

For one week, the doctors and nurses go through the high-intensity combat casualty care course. Hospital Corpsman Brian Powers says the point is to raise their stress levels to help them deal with mass casualties during deployment.

"The last thing you want as a casualty, have your doctor freak out and not know what to do, so that's why we stress anxiety here," said Brian Powers, Hospital Corpsman.

Because blood is not readily available at combat hospitals, they also stress hemorrhage control.

Powers says that's because troops can die from bleeding in under two minutes. He says you have four to six minutes to deal with breathing issues.

Focusing on blood control first instead of airways goes against what doctors and nurses are usually taught in medical school. Doctor Ian Cassady says it takes some getting used to.

"Completely flips everything on its head. You kind of throw what you're taught out, and almost reverse it."

The U.S. military has also adopted a new tourniquet technique for the battlefield. Called the "hasty tourniquet", a doctor or medic who notices bleeding in a patient's arm or leg will immediately tie it off. High and tight. Then, once the wound is located, they'll put a tourniquet two to four inches above it.

Army officials say the technique has a 99-percent success rate of saving soldiers who are in danger of bleeding to death. Army officials say the hasty tourniquet and hemorrhage control are a few reasons we're seeing the lowest killed-in-action rate in U.S. military history.


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